Jesus Has Authority to Cast Out Evil Spirits.

33In the synagogue there was a man possessed by a demon, an impure spirit. He cried out at the top of his voice, 34“Go away! What do you want with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are—the Holy One of God!” 35“Be quiet!” Jesus said sternly. “Come out of him!” Then the demon threw the man down before them all and came out without injuring him. 36All the people were amazed and said to each other, “What words these are! With authority and power he gives orders to impure spirits and they come out!” 37And the news about him spread throughout the surrounding area (Luke 4:31-37).

Luke’s focus is to show us the display of power and authority that Jesus brought against Satan and his kingdom. Twice in our passage, Luke uses the word authority (vs. 32 and 36) to describe the ministry of Jesus. In my opinion, there was more to His message than the structure of His sentences and clarity of logic. Christ did not buttress His message by quoting previous Rabbis. The Lord did not have to support His teaching in any way, for He had and has authority in Himself: “You have heard that it was said…39But I say to you…” (Matthew 5:38-39). He preached God’s Word which is dynamic and powerful itself, but not only has the Word of God authority in itself, there was and is authority and power that is intrinsic in the Speaker, the Lord Jesus.

A person with spiritual authority brings forth a clarity and conviction that speaks to the heart and will of a listener. Jesus was said to have authority and power: “With authority and power he gives orders to impure spirits and they come out!” (v. 36). Exousia (authority) is the permission or authority to do something; it denotes the right to do something. The other word translated into English as power (v. 36), is the Greek word Dunamis, from where we get the English word dynamite. This word means to be capable, sufficiently powerful. It is intrinsic power. Exousia is likened to the traffic cop standing at an intersection directing traffic. He has authority to tell you to do something.  If you do not do it, then he has dunamis ( power) in his gun strapped to his waist to make you do it! Demons recognize this authority and power. It is important for us to get a firm understanding of the authority and power that resides in Christ Jesus Himself. Let us try and get a handle on this important truth, for He has also given authority to His Church to carry on His ministry (Matthew 28:18-20).

Exousia (authority) is often used of a king conferring his authority or permission to exert a certain action. There are different kinds of authority, but all are spiritual in nature. There is nothing tangible to grasp. You can’t see authority. Authority, though, has to have power along with it. There is no authority if power is not delegated to back it up. Jesus gave the seventy disciples power and authority to drive out demons and to heal sicknesses, and the result was that the seventy returned with joy, saying, “Lord, even the demons submit to us in your name” (Luke 10:17). Authority is exercised in an office situation by the use of power along with it. For instance, your boss exercises authority over you by his use of rewards for correct action, e.g. salary increase or promotion to a higher level. There is also coercive power, i.e. the boss can use the threat and fear of being dismissed or a pay downgrade to influence your performance.

True spiritual leadership is never forced upon the will of the person led. A person with true spiritual leadership should never have to say that he is the leader. True spiritual authority is not coercive or used in a bullying sense, nor does it make a person feel inferior, but it respects moral freedom.

Jesus exercised true spiritual authority in His leadership. He never forced His will over people. His leadership style was one of true agape love which ignited a desire from those who heard His words to want to be like Him! You can only exercise true spiritual leadership when you have earned the right by the degree of your character and the presence of the Spirit in your life.

Taken from the more complete study in the book of Luke, study 7. Jesus’ Authority over Demons, found in the middle column under the title “Luke, A Walk through the Life of Jesus.

Keith Thomas

Jesus and the Woman with Internal Bleeding

25And a woman was there who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years. 26She had suffered a great deal under the care of many doctors and had spent all she had, yet instead of getting better she grew worse. 27When she heard about Jesus, she came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak, 28because she thought, If I just touch his clothes, I will be healed.” 29Immediately her bleeding stopped and she felt in her body that she was freed from her suffering. 30At once Jesus realized that power had gone out from him. He turned around in the crowd and asked, “Who touched my clothes?” 31“You see the people crowding against you,” his disciples answered, “and yet you can ask, ‘Who touched me?’” 32But Jesus kept looking around to see who had done it. 33Then the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came and fell at his feet and, trembling with fear, told him the whole truth. 34He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering” (Mark 5:25-34).

The woman we read about above had internal bleeding for 12 years. She had tried everything the doctors had said to her but nothing healed her. In her desperation, she conceived a plan. Faith rose up in her to believe that if she could get close enough to Jesus and touch the hem of His cloak, she would be healed. The God of heaven inspired her to reach out and stop the Son of God for her need. She made a faith statement inside her heart to the Lord.

God responds to faith. When a thought that may be inspired faith comes to you, do you shut it down as ridiculous or do you go with it? We are told in verse 31 that the crowds were pressing against Christ, how is it that some can crowd the Lord while others can go beyond the crowd to touch him for their needs? What do you think is the secret of those that get their prayers and needs met? Expectation or faith are key words in approaching God, but also determination, not allowing anything to put you off from getting your need met by the King of Glory.

This principle of determination is what the woman has. No matter how big the crowd was, no matter how hard it was to push through; she would reach out and touch the Lord. There was danger that went along with this plan, though. There were strict laws laid down in Leviticus 15:19-33, that separated any woman with internal bleeding from other healthy people. Any person with a sickness like hers had to be separated from the community and kept at distance. Anything or anyone she touched would make them unclean. If she were found out, people would be really angry.

Imagine the pain that this woman lived with daily. There was the physical pain of her condition, and also the constant emotional pain from living a life of segregation similar to that of a leper, one who was viewed as unclean by the rest of society. Everything she touched was viewed as contaminated! How scared she must have been as she was mingling with the crowd trying to get to Jesus. He was her only hope and He did not let her down. She was desperate and alone as she stretched forth and connected her fingers to the cloak of Jesus. As soon as she touched His garment she was healed instantly.

The Lord felt power leave His body as the woman touched Him. Even though the crowd was pressing against Him, He knew that someone had gone beyond the crowd with a touch of faith. Why would Jesus stop and ask who touched Him? It might have been that He wanted the Father to get the glory for what was done. It also might have been that He was concerned for the woman that the healing is open before all the community, in order for her to reenter society and no longer be separated from her friends.  He wanted her to be able to go into the house of God and worship with all the rest of the congregation.

Why was she trembling at His question?  She took a huge risk. Jesus was well known as a Rabbi in who is the Spirit of God. She might have thought that she would contaminate him with her uncleanness and render Him unable to carry on His ministry.  I am sure that she expected to be severely told off, but instead, how kind was His response. There was no anger from Him, just encouragement to her for stretching out her faith to touch Him. How about you? Isn’t it time you stretched out your faith to the Lord Jesus?

Keith Thomas

God the Communicator

the-word1In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2He was with God in the beginning. 3Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. 4In him was life, and that life was the light of men. 5The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it (John 1:1-4).

Communication is a wonderful and necessary thing, but problems in communication can have disastrous or even hilarious results. There is more than one way to communicate an idea, which becomes very apparent when you move from one country to another. When I first came to America from England, I had a number of communication problems. One of these happened while I was staying at the home of a couple named Gene and Alice. Gene planned on getting up early in the morning to cut wood, as was his usual Saturday morning custom in the winter. I thought that I would give him a hand the next morning, so I wrote a note and stuck it on his door which read: “If you need me in the morning, just knock me up!” (I found out later that knock me up is American slang word for having sex!) They all had a good laugh at my expense the next morning. Sometimes you have to learn from your mistakes in communicating with others.

In the passage above, we see that God the Father takes great care in His communication. He is so intent on communicating with us in a way that we will totally understand Him, that He sends His Only Son to show us the way to His house. He literally took great pain to show us the way to eternal life. To communicate to the human race, God did not send an angel. God came Himself, in human form to bring us His message. This communication was very costly for Him; in fact, it cost Him everything. We could paraphrase the first few words by saying, “In the beginning was the communication.” How condescending our God is! The Living Word of God, the Son Himself, longs to have communication with you and me. Take a moment to think about that and take it in! That thought alone should prod us to spend more time in prayer and practice closeness of relationship to Him. Right at the beginning of his gospel, John the apostle is very clear about just who Christ is—God coming to man, not only to show us the way home but to be the Way Himself, by giving His life so that man may be renewed and born again, or born from above (John 3:3). He tells us that those who receive Him are born of God:

12Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— 13children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God (John 1:12-13). How wonderful that God Himself came to communicate with us!

Keith Thomas

Do You Pray with Persistence?

11_persistent_widow_jpeg_1024“However, when the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on the earth?” (Luke 18:8).

Jesus is the person speaking in the passage above. His words are about a time just before He returns to earth, that the kind of faith and prayer that prevails will be a rare thing. His words are taken from the parable of the persistent widow, found in the gospel of Luke, chapter 18. The widow sought for justice from an unjust judge, and prevailed by not giving up. Jesus used the story to say that if an unjust judge gives in to a persistent widow, then how much more will the Holy God, who watches over the affairs of men, grant the prayers of prevailing people of prayer!

It is my opinion that we are living in the time in which the Lord’s return is near, although how near, I would not like to predict. Many have made such claims in the past and have been proven to be wrong, to their embarrassment. However, there are some signs of the times which are obvious to any wise seeker of truth. The question is raised; “Will the Son of Man find faith on the earth?” We are living in a day when faith in Christ is under attack. In fact, people of faith in our Western culture are now being accused of being “politically incorrect.” Spirituality in our western worldview does not fit neatly, unless it is seen in an abstract way, or as a way of “self enlightenment or self improvement.”

We are so consumed with our jobs and making a living, having so little time for anything else that we often do not have time for the really important things in life. We do not take the time to pray persistently as the widow did. The vast majority of the Church gets weary and gives up before God can reward their faith and prayer with the answer.

When Edmund Gravely died at the controls of his small plane while on the way to Statesboro, Georgia, from the Rocky Mount-Wilson Airport in North Carolina, his wife, Janice, kept the plane aloft for two hours. As the plane crossed the South Carolina/North Carolina border, she radioed for help: “Help, help, won’t someone help me? My pilot is unconscious.” Authorities who picked up her distress signal were not able to reach her by radio during the flight because she kept changing channels. Eventually, Mrs Gravely made a rough landing and had to crawl for forty-five minutes to a farm house for help. How often God’s people cry out to him for help but switch channels before His message comes through! They turn to other sources for help, looking for human guidance. When you cry out to God for His intervention, don’t switch channels! [1] Await His answer and keep looking to Him.

[1] 1500 Illustrations for Biblical Preaching, Page 279, Edited by Michael Green, Baker Book House.

Keith Thomas

One Thing is Needed

mm13detail_38As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. 39She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. 40But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!” 41“Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, 42but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her” (Luke 10:38-42).

Mary comes across to me as a person who is passionate about the things that really count. She knows that she is expected to be helping Martha with the food and drinks, but how often does one have the God of the universe over for tea and crumpets (or whatever they had for tea in that day)!  She sees the eagerness on the face of Jesus as He begins to answer questions and discuss the Scriptures. Wild horses could not drag her from the room! She made a conscious decision to ignore the unwritten rules, obligations, and expectations to help Martha in the kitchen. There are higher priorities than laying the table and pouring drinks. I am sure that Mary had a number of questions stored up in her heart. She was just waiting for the words of Jesus to feed her soul.

Mary was right in putting the word of God as her highest priority. We would all benefit from following her example here. All of our labor in this life should be subservient to the words of eternal life: What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul?” (Matthew 16:26). Mary was so hungry for truth, and Jesus was eager to feed her the Bread of Life.

Martha strikes me as a person whose self-esteem was bound up in what she does for Jesus more than who she is in Christ. She was a task-oriented person, and there is nothing wrong with that. We need task-oriented people. God has gifted them in their inner DNA to be like that. It was her home, so she felt that the responsibility was on her to treat the Master right. After all, if the Lord Jesus was coming to your house, wouldn’t you try to prepare a nice spread of food in hospitality to the visiting Rabbi? By the time Martha makes her final outburst to Jesus, we can imagine that she was getting as steamed up as her kitchen was! I can picture Martha banging the pots around, making plenty of noise to remind Mary of her duties in the kitchen. Martha’s focus shifts from trying to get Mary’s attention to blaming Jesus. “Why doesn’t He say anything to her?” she thinks to herself as she bangs a few pots in the hope of drawing Mary’s attention. There is no indication that Martha was directing her anger toward her sister. She can’t get her attention; instead, Martha accuses Jesus of not caring: “She came to him and asked, ‘Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!’” (v. 40).

Martha wanted Jesus to redirect Mary; however, Jesus wanted to redirect Martha! Martha attempted to get Mary to serve Jesus in the same way that Martha did. Martha’s irritability had grown to the point where she was literally commanding Jesus as to what He should do. We must give room to let people be different to ourselves. We are given different temperaments for a reason, i.e. to learn to live with one another’s temperaments. It wasn’t that Martha was wrong and Mary right, but that we should imitate Mary in our worship and Martha in our work. To achieve a balance in both, we must put first things first.

Martha felt like she had to do everything and felt let down because Mary was not pulling her share of the load. She felt that this was unfair. Have you felt like that before? Some of us have heard these words from our parents: “Life is unfair! Get used to it!” Jesus does not respond this way, however. He gets straight to the heart with Martha. “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “You are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better and it will not be taken away from her” (vs. 41-42). How tenderly He responds to her. These are not words of anger or disappointment leveled at Martha, and the doubling of her name reflects deep emotion on His part.

Some would say that Jesus was only after one thing on Martha’s menu instead of an elaborate meal. Bread and water would have been quite sufficient. It is more logical, though, to interpret the “one thing” to be Mary’s attitude of hungering after Christ’s presence. Time was short. Jesus was headed to the cross, and food was not on Jesus’ priority list, but Martha and Mary were! They were His priority! Jesus did not stop by Martha’s house for the food but primarily to spend time with them. What if Jesus were coming by your house today, would you be too busy for Him, or are you a Mary and love to sit at His feet?

Taken from the more complete study 26 in Luke entitled “Jesus Martha and Mary.” Found in the middle column under the heading Luke, A Walk Through the Life of Jesus. Click on the link to all the studies in Luke and find study 26

Keith Thomas